Attempting to make it as a writer

Posts tagged ‘dawn chorus’

Appraising the Future

I am chasing my tail at the moment.  Work is so busy having taken on an extra job to help with the spiralling increase in costs involved with growing teenagers.  I still manage to rise early and work on my writing which seems to be prolific and productive but never gets further than my computer.  

I was asked recently how I saw myself in three years’ time.

Just think in three years’ time I may be about to have a book due to be published; but I really need to do something about sending it to an agent NOW.  I might have developed my magazine and people will be reading my monthly mini blog and following my journey.  I could be a grandmother  as one of my oldest friends has just become but I hope not yet when the children are just starting out on their adult lives.  I can always hope for that elusive win on the lottery although it may be prudent to not count on this.

Number 1 Son this week chased his own dream by travelling by train half way across the country to attend an interview with his preferred university choice.  He took with him his portfolio of works to date and a sketch pad of ideas.   Suitably impressed they offered him a place conditional on getting his grades.   It is up to him now to get those grades.

Middle son also took a huge step towards his dream as he attended an interview for an apprenticeship in a kitchen working towards his goal of becoming a chef and running his own restaurant.    He too was offered the place conditionally.   If he realises the work will be long hours, hard work and in the beginning very monotonous where he will grow to hate peeling vegetables.  He will however learn the basics of the trade and on completing the apprenticeship have options available to him.  They have offered him a day each weekend from now until August when he and they can make the final commitment.   It is up to him to wow them with his culinary prowess.

Mini Son is too young to have the burden of future upon his young shoulders and is enjoying school, football and his friendships.

So where do I see myself in three years’ time?

Well if I was honest I see myself surrounded by my best sellers in my luxury office where I would go and work creatively all day producing a fabulous new best seller each month. Attending nationwide literary festivals and judging competitions in my own right.  My name however is not JK so I need to revise my expectations I think.

I am the driver in this dream and if I want the book published I need an agent.  To that end I have researched and found a list of agents who may take my novel.  I have read what they require and how to submit my manuscript.  I need to be working on my self-confidence which is a huge barrier to any self-improvement.  I know now that I need to finish that synopsis, tidy up the spelling and grammar and press the send button……

Too scary!

Or in three years’ time, I could have the same conversation and still be hoping to start the journey to publishing.

Where did I save that synopsis?

Writing

My brother may have given me a dose of unexpected self-confidence when for my recent birthday he presented me with a self-published (by him) copy of my first years’ worth of blogs.  It does not come under the genre of novel but Tiggy Hayes has a book out; albeit a single copy currently.  It is mine and my work and could be all the confidence I need to press that button.  Dawn Chorus Volume 1, 2011 by Tiggy Hayes.   Currently I do not know if there is a way to get a copy I think it would be print on demand but will update this blog if I can get any details.

In Print

In Print

Tiggy

Have a look at what I am up to with my food blog at http://tiggy-tea.blogspot.co.uk/

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Commercial Potential

It had taken a long time to get to this point.  Many years wasted,  wishing on the ‘never going to happen’ star.   Followed by many years of gentle hints that I might possibly wish to forgo the annual cold wet camping/sailing holiday with the family and pop over the hill to Swanwick.   Now the family were older, Sexy Sporty Dad in a moment of madness suggested I book my holiday  and the family could fend for themselves for a week.

Booked.

Irrevocably in to my dream week before he had the chance to think about what he had said; let alone change his mind.

So here I was all alone in an alien world not knowing anyone.  I had to leave my room sometime. Bravely shutting the door on my haven I followed the noise of a few chatty people outside.   Delaying any moment of verbal contact I held the door for a lady a few steps behind.

“Oh you’re a white badger”

“Yes” I replied surprised at the childlike reticence in my voice; wondering what initiation I would trigger.

“How is your room?  Do you know anyone?”  my terrified shake of the head gave me away.  “Come with me and we will get some tea.”  Suddenly I had a friend.  With our tea we met other members of her lovely writing circle who had come as a group for years.  I was embraced like an old friend by others eager to meet past friends and develop new ones.  I was no longer the frightened imposter who had arrived but an hour ago.   I was part of the crowd, part of the magic, I was a writer.

That is Swanwick all over; always a friendly face to guide you, a supportive word to encourage you and interested contemporaries to inspire you.

The welcome reception for white badgers gave me the opportunity to mingle with committee members, fellow white badgers and a few regulars on hand to guide and include.   A glass of wine softened any remaining doubt that I was gate crashing a private party.   More relaxed I was able to answer questions about my lack of published work.   I explained I was editing a novel which I hoped to get published and found I was not the only person in that position. I summoned the courage to tell of my blogging and early tweeting experiences to people interested in my attempts,  not only my successes.

The program I had been sent would be my bible for the forthcoming week.   I would refer to it countless times a day.  I wanted to do everything, I wanted to experience everything, I didn’t want to miss a moment.    I can see why people come back time and time again, there is so much on offer all crammed into just one week. Many workshops clashed, I couldn’t possibly do everything. I wasn’t even sure I could cope with the pace to do all that didn’t clash.   Days would be filled with workshops; learning, interacting, discovering in my own special world.

 

Swanwick-programme

 

 

One special event took place when I met with my 1 to 1 specialist.  I had agonised and anguished for many hours before anxiously sending the first 3000 words of “Memories”.    Would she like it, would she be the first to realise I am not meant to be a writer, would she critique it so much there is none of my beloved story left?   Self-doubt and regret at signing up for such close scrutiny both clouded and dulled my passion for my story.  I went to meet her all the same.

The most positive 20 minutes of my life.

She encouraged me, she advised me and she loved the story.  As the moments passed I became bolder asking questions about publishing and e-books.  I wanted to know where to go next.   Two simple words will ring in my ears for the rest of my life. “Comercial Potential”!  Her suggestion was that I should finish writing in the extra character and then get it professionally looked at and in the meantime think about getting an agent.

An agent.   Never in a million years had I imagined being in a position to get an agent.  What does an agent do, why are they more effective than just sending it off to any publisher?  I was now on the threshold of that next scary, exciting, wonderful step of the journey.  I attended the course on “Editing your Manuscript” given by an Agent, who answered my questions before I even asked them.  She answered many I had not got round to thinking about and left me with even more to explore.

From that point on, nothing was going to detract from the pure magic of my stay in Derbyshire.  Although to be fair the culmination of so many heightened emotions the enchanted atmosphere was going to be hard for me to dent.

Inspiration,  I got not just from the workshops and fantastically diverse but talented speakers but also from the supportive and understanding Swanwick family.   We all write, in such distinct and different genres but we all use words.  We all have aspirations and goals within our writing world and with my new friends I will take away the courage to follow my dreams.

The end of the week draws close and I must remember the love, the joy and the passion these people gave me as I must return to the outside world.

Tiggy 

 

check out my cooking blog at  tea-time treats 

 

 

 

Priorities

I am good at my job; normally within the limited scope I am permitted, I am good at prioritising.

Stress Balls

I have come from a highly charged and pressurised career where I had to deliver accurate and timely financial data onto live systems for immediate dispersal around the world all before 8am in the morning.  I have run my own property management company from home where the discipline of dividing home life and work was paramount to success.   So why now do I find it so difficult to prioritise my writing?

I describe myself in my CV as methodical, organised and accurate, which on the whole I would stand by.  Sexy Sporty Dad might dispute some of these, as he can never find anything on my desk.   I, on the other hand, know exactly which pile to look in to find things, if people would just not move anything around.   I can actually lay my hands immediately on all our passports, medical cards, car insurance with MOT Certificates.  A few weeks ago we were challenged about the extent of our property boundary; I was sadly able to pull out the copy of the deeds to prove the point in question.

An untidy desk is not a mark of an untidy mind.

I confess, although I would never consider myself OCD at anything, I do compartmentalise my time.   I allot time slots for certain jobs, inevitably running over and throwing my time frames awry.  My working hours at the school are easier to adhere to; although it is not in my nature to walk away leaving things unfinished and impossible to leave a crying child.  I have fallen into my own routine and mornings are my special time; no-one in the house is up and probably few people in the town are stirring.   Alone with the early morning Dawn Chorus emanating gently from the surrounding trees, I have gained one, self centred hour every morning for writing.

It doesn’t matter too much what I write but I must write.  E-mails and facebook status updates do not count as writing.   So, yesterday morning, I clambered reluctantly from my large, warm and peaceful bed to stumble downstairs to a cold, miserable morning and lonely desk to spend an hour and a half on Rugby.

I could justify permitting myself to do this;  I was due to finish work at noon and would spend the whole afternoon catching up with myself and my writing,  what a pleasure to look forward to.   I left work late at 1.15 and came home to a stack of more rugby orientated emails which needed immediate attention.   All afternoon I spent scrummaging through fixtures, throwing challenges to the opposition and trying to appease our teams.  Even during the evening whilst I was at a meeting, at guess where, the Rugby Club, Sexy Sporty Dad forwarded a message confirming No 1 Son’s team has a game this weekend.

My novel, it sounds good doesn’t it?  My novel, Memories, lies still unopened with the third draft only partly complete. NANOWRIMO – write a novel in a month (November) is looming hesitantly on the horizon.    I have no short stories to send off to the copious magazines I buy for research or the competitions I dream of entering if not winning.  To cap it all, at the moment, even Middle Son’s under 15’s team still have no game this weekend.  So what was it all for?

Is it just that I can’t say no; does it go deeper into the psyche than a simple word.

My history is littered with extra-curricular clubs and societies; early on it was the socialisation and charitable need that drew my attention.  Latterly, school based committees and now the rugby club are not as much for my benefit as that of my boys.

One Sunday morning a few years ago, I looked round at the family dynamics to realise I had lost my three boys and my husband for good.    Three rugby players and a rugby coach left me deserted every weekend, with nothing in common.  I had a choice: let them go or join them.    Playing rugby was not an option, even watching it as a mother, was a heart rendering pastime I found too difficult.  What was left?  The one thing I was good at: volunteering!    Every organisation can find room for a volunteer and so did the rugby club, the more I did the more I became involved.

Now a few years down the road, only No 1 Son is really playing the game.  I am unable to break the spider’s web of commitment I have invested into his club.  Not while he is still dependent on our support, both financial and parental, can I cut the threads.  He himself is carving a name for himself at the club.  While out injured last season we pushed him to take up refereeing which he is developing as another strand to his rugby career.  A rising star, full of determination to succeed and already being congratulated on his ability and fairness, he has local RFU referees watching and mentoring him.

Of course there are benefits to being involved, free RFU stress balls and with the world cup coming to this country in four years time I am hopeful that my involvement with the club will help me gain a ticket to watch No 1 Son as he plans to play for England at that time.   Although I am not sure I will have overcome my horror at the game or the carnage left behind.  I suspect, No 1 Son will not want his mother screaming at the opposition “get off my son”, instead he will have some gorgeous model hanging round the hospitality suite on my ticket, to soothe his battered and bruised brow.

So just maybe I now know where my priorities lie.  My needs, in my mind, come below that of my children!

The meeting last night did however introduce me to a press officer who gave me tips on match reporting and how to develop a human interest story.   It also left me with a tiny germination of a seed for a story this weekend.

My personal preference is writing and clearly the boys’ priority is fun sports; “never the twain shall meet” or maybe they just did.

Tiggy

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